Job’s Enlightenment

May 26, 2018 at 3:38 PM Leave a comment

Last time, we briefly discussed the fact that Job experienced problems in his relationship with God. Unbeknownst to Job, whom the Bible labels a “blameless” man; that is one who endeavors to do what is right before God. It does not mean Job never sinned. It means the overall tone and character of his life was one that was lived with the intention of pleasing God; doing what was right.

As far as Job was concerned, what befell him came out of nowhere and he felt it was undeserved. Of course, there were several things that Job was not aware of at all. He had no knowledge of what occurred in the spiritual realm during the meeting before the “sons of God” (including Satan) and God Himself. We read through the book of Job and immediately gain that understanding because it is highlighted for us in Job 1. However, Job was not privy to that information, which only made his situation that much more unpalatable for him.

I mentioned last time that I do not consider myself to be an expert where Job is concerned. There have been hundreds and hundreds of books, articles and sermons written on the book of Job. One reader noted a book by author Layton Talbot called, Beyond Suffering. Dr. Talbot is a professor of theology at the Bob Jones University Seminary. I’m looking into that book myself. Other commentators like Dr. Thomas Constable, Ray C. Stedman, J. Vernon McGee, Keil & Delitzsch, Ironside, and too many others to list here have all done much research and put pen to paper to provide us with some help and insight into unlocking the issues dealt with in the book of Job.

It is disconcerting for many of us to read that book and try to square it with God’s character. We have a difficult time seeing a God of “love” in the book of Job. Certainly, we see God’s holiness, His separation from His Creation, His demands to live a life of obedience regardless of the cost to us, and we see His absolute patience in how He deals with those He has created.

It is, unfortunately, easy to begin to think of God as a “holy tyrant” who does whatever He wants to do and as Job says, “Who can stop Him?” The answer of course, is “no one.” But more importantly than that, there must be a reason (or number of reasons), why God chose to allow what He allowed to happen to Job. Is it that God is “capricious” and does not have to answer to anyone? Is it that God uses situations that He (and He alone) allows into our lives for His glory and purpose?

The truth appears to be that if we simply scan through Job, we will miss tremendous truths that define God and His relationship with His Creation. If all we do is give Job a cursory read-through, we will be left feeling as though God really doesn’t care about us, that He is more aligned with being a supernatural bully than a loving God who wants to salvage His Creation.

As far as Job, the man, is concerned, consider several things. As I mentioned it is very possible (and even likely), that Job lived during the patriarchal period of Genesis. Commentators have pointed out internal evidence within the book itself, which more than suggests this. Job lived to be either 140 or roughly 210 years of age, which is line with others during that same patriarchal period (Terah-205 years; Abraham-175 years; Isaac-180 years, etc.).

It is also interesting to note that during that period of time, most thought that if a person had tremendous wealth, a large family, and long life, it was due to God’s blessing on them. Those who did not have these things were seen as not being blessed by God. Of course, because we have the entirety of Scripture, we know that Jesus essentially rebuked this particular way of thinking.

1 Now as Jesus was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth, 2 and His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God would be displayed in him.…(John 9:1-3 Berean Study Bible)

People still tend to make this mistake in judging another person’s life. It is wrong, but in Job’s defense, he did not have the entirety of God’s Word and in fact, may have had either nothing or very little of it. Yet, in spite of this, Job sought God and endeavored to live in a way that pleased God. This is extremely important for us to realize and understand. Job sought God and He evidenced this through righteous living so that God actually told Satan that Job was “blameless” before Him. This is extremely important to note and consider. Job did not have much “light” in the way of God’s Word, yet it is clear that he gained his understanding of God through Creation itself. He refers to the constellations, the earth, and the grandeur of God as seen in the Creation. It was a limited view of God to be sure, yet it was the very thing that prompted Job to begin seeking God in the first place. We are not talking about “horoscopes” here.

Job took his relationship before God seriously. He endeavored to do what was correct before God, as far as he understood it. He wanted to please God. Why does this happen? Why are people born into this life, most having no real desire to seek God and yet, every once in a while, someone comes along who is directed toward God? We see this with many people in the Old and New Testaments.

In Genesis 4:26, we read the following, “To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord” (ESV). Seth was the newest brother of Cain, who as you’ll recall, killed his other brother Abel in a fit of rage fueled by jealousy. In Genesis 5:24, we read, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (ESV).

Isn’t it fascinating that every once in a while, someone comes into this life who seems turned toward God from a very early age? That has everything to do with God Himself acting upon certain individuals for His purposes and good pleasure.

Job was obviously an individual who was very blessed by God, but there were obviously things that Job had to learn. We have absolutely no excuse because we know a great deal more about God and how He works because of His Word. Of course, if you never read it, study it, or prayerfully meditate over it, you’ll never progress in your relationship with God. In fact, I can guarantee you that everything about your religious “experience” will be based on your feelings. This is a terrible way to judge any relationship, much less our relationship with God Almighty.

But because of Job’s lack of biblical insight, he unfortunately came to errant conclusions about God, which the remainder of the book of Job after the first few chapters brings out. One of things that seems very clear is that Job was actually not aware of Satan himself. If you take the time to read through chapters 9-12 of Job, you’ll see that Job attributes to God what is often from Satan. How would he have known? In short, he would not have known.

On one hand, Job was ascribing to God the responsibility of what occurred to Job, even though, while God allowed it to occur, it came from the hand of Satan directly. Job was fully unaware of the problem of evil in the world and the fact that evil has a name (Satan) and he directs his minions to create problems for God’s chosen people.

13 God will not turn back his anger;
beneath him bowed the helpers of Rahab.
14 How then can I answer him,
choosing my words with him?
15 Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him;
I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.
16 If I summoned him and he answered me,
I would not believe that he was listening to my voice.
17 For he crushes me with a tempest
and multiplies my wounds without cause;
18 he will not let me get my breath,
but fills me with bitterness.
19 If it is a contest of strength, behold, he is mighty!
If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him? (Job 9:13-19 ESV)

Look at how Job describes God in the above text? Was he wrong? Based on his experience, he was not. However, it is clear from our vantage point that Job did not have a clear understanding of who God is and how He chooses to deal with humanity and His Creation. Job did not know any better because the fuller picture about God had not yet been provided. Because of Job and the rest of the Old and New Testaments, we have superior knowledge about God, His Creation, how He works to accomplish His goals, all for His glory and honor.

God had some very important truths to release to Job. These truths are not just for Job, but by extension, for all of God’s adopted children via the salvation that has been made available once for all to the world and to all who personally embrace that salvation.

Larry Waters (from Suffering in the Book of Job) states, “Besides displaying one man’s faith in God in times of suffering, the book of Job also has a ‘missionary’ purpose. That is, a believer’s suffering should be viewed, as seen in Job’s experience, as an opportunity to witness not only to God’s sovereignty but also to his goodness, justice, grace, and love to the nonbelieving world.”

In their commentary, Keil & Delitzsch state, “The final solution of the problem which this marvelous book sets forth, is then this: the suffering of the righteous, in its deepest cause, is the conflict of the seed of the woman with the seed of the serpent, which ends in the head of the serpent being trampled under foot; it is the type or copy of the suffering of Christ, the Holy God, who has himself borne our sins, and in the constancy of His reconciling love has withstood, even to the final overthrow, the assault of wrath and of the angel of wrath.”

For the time being, Satan is allowed to buffet those who are in Christ as part of God’s planned “recreation” of our character into the perfect and harmonized character of Jesus. This buffeting or conflict is normally of a spiritual nature even when it is seen in physical or emotional turmoil or harm. In other words, if we consider the one and only reason Satan wanted to destroy Job was to pull him away from God. Satan set about to bring Job so low that he would simply “curse God” and hope to die. It is clear from the book that Job wanted to die, but at no time did he ever curse God, even after his own wife suggested that he do so (Job 2:9).

All one has to do is read through Scripture to know that believers experienced many trials and tribulations in this life. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, published in 1563 highlights the terrible way many Christians gave up their lives in painful, sometimes, agonizing deaths. They did so because of their faith in God. Would we argue how could a loving God sit by when His own adopted children experience such agony and physical torment prior to death all because they exercise saving faith in God’s salvation through Christ?

In the end, it really is the very same thing. While God holds our life in the palm of His hands, He allows Satan at times to act upon us because of God’s greater purposes. A few years ago, I wrote a book called His Highest Purpose. The book discusses exactly that. While without doubt, salvation is one of God’s high purposes, there is something that is even greater than the fact that He has offered salvation to fallen humanity in the first place.

The book of Job highlights the aggressiveness of Satan in wanting to cut God’s children down. Job went from being fully at peace with God (chapter 1), to wondering what he had done to offend God, because he couldn’t think of anything, to wishing he had not been born and that he would die soon (chapter 3). By the end of the book, because of God’s interaction with him, Job is forced to realize that he has no basis for questioning God on any level. In fact, Job comes to the point of simply uttering that he should have really kept his mouth closed in the first place. He came out the other end of this trauma a better person for what he then knew of God that he had not know prior.

Though Job was considered blameless at first, there was room for him to be humbled. No matter how well we believe we follow and obey our Lord, there is always room to be humbled as well. Why? Because the sin nature still exists and at times, thrives within each of us. As long as it remains in this life, there will be room to be further humbled.

The apostle Peter tells us, again, very possibly with thoughts of Job in his mind, “6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:6-9 KJV).

It is the exact same message we glean from the pages of Job. Bottom line? Sin keeps us from perfect living. Human beings embraced sin into this world in the first place, thereby ruining God’s Creation. He had every right to destroy us then, but chose not to do so. He had a better plan, a plan that involved salvaging a remnant of the entire human race and eventually recreating His Creation.

When we suffer because of our relationship with Christ, we are to consider ourselves blessed. This is extremely difficult for most of us because we continue to harbor the erroneous idea that if God is for us, then He will bless us and that is often seen in material blessings. The upshot of Job is that our blessings that count the most are the ones procured in the spiritual realm. These are the ones that moth, rust, or thief cannot take away. Satan is often allowed by God to “sift” us but only for God’s purposes.

31 Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32 Berean Study Bible)

Please notice Jesus did not pray that Simon would not be tested (sifted), but He prayed that Simon’s faith would not fail him. Notice also Jesus says “when you have turned back…” implying that he was going to turn away (and he did). The pressure against Peter was great. Jesus knew it would happen and knew that Satan had actually asked God the Father for permission to “sift” Peter, very much like he had done with Job.

God allowed this to occur for Peter’s benefit. It forced him toward humility that he might not otherwise have embraced. I am not trying to pretend that Job’s difficulties were light or that I could’ve borne them easier. I cannot imagine the pain – emotionally and physically – he went through! I would not want to change places with him in any event. Job teaches us that God has specific purposes in allowing His children to suffer. If for no other reason, they serve to humble us.

In Job 42:2, Job realizes things he had never before realized.

Job’s words reveal the changes that God’s revelations had produced in him. He was aware as never before that God had all power and all wisdom. This resulted in an attitude of awe and submission (v. 2). He saw that it was foolish for him to question God’s actions. God knew what He was doing even though Job did not. (Constable, Notes on Job, p. 105)

Let it be so in us as well.

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, Emotional virtue, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , , , .

Job’s Problems Job’s Deeper Meaning

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